Jed was really starting to annoy me! In the summer of 2009 he and Stacy were preparing to plant Restoration Anglican Church in Addison and I was supportive of the idea, in theory. But when my former co-worker Jed started a relentless campaign to persuade me that I needed to be their first staff person and help launch the church I wasn’t convinced. Church plants are hard work! There is the spiritual preparation, the emotional burden, the low pay for long hours, but the worst part has to be the manual labor. I thought of friends of mine who were up at 5 am each Sunday setting up chairs and sound equipment in school cafeterias in fledgling church plants and was convinced that I wasn’t up for it.
After my third coffee with Jed to hear the Restoration pitch, I felt like God turned my heart and suddenly I was ready to join—early morning manual labor and all. When we launched in October 2009 it was all I had expected and more. Those first few months were difficult but rewarding and as we got organized and grew accustomed to the weekly set-up and break-down cycle that, thankfully, didn’t start until after the sun was up.
In the spring of 2010 I met my husband Mike. He was visiting Restoration with a friend and I greeted him in the narthex (a.k.a. the space between the bar and the restaurant booths in our first Sambuca restaurant location). I do not remember much about the moment other than noting that he seemed nice but didn’t have much to say. I’ve since learned that in his home state of Minnesota you simply don’t start by talking someone’s ear off, even at the risk of awkward silence.
It wasn’t love at first sight, probably because I wasn’t really looking for love. Dating had been pretty fruitless for me and though I didn’t have a long list of requirements for a husband, I did have a few deal breakers. High on the list was that I would only marry someone who was committed to church. Not someone who has been meaning to find a church or attends when he can or is open spiritually but not particularly religious. If I asked a date if he went to church, his answer needed to be “Yes, last Sunday” because I was too was devoted to the life of the local church to not share it with a partner.
After just a few weeks Mike decided to commit to Restoration and jumped in by asking Jed how he could serve the church. In the summer of 2010 Restoration moved from meeting in Sambuca to setting up each Sunday at the Intercontinental Hotel on the Tollway, which meant that all our belongings has to be unpacked and carefully repacked in an ancient conversion van named “Rusty.” And Mike was there every Sunday morning before church, usually earlier than some of the staff and band, with coffee orders for everyone.
We spent most Sunday mornings together moving chairs, unrolling cables, and unpacking toys in the nursery. By the fall I suggested that he join my community group where I discovered that though he didn’t say much, when he did speak it was thoughtful and wise. We had a group of mutual friends who could see how things might come together for the two of us and began to dabble in matchmaking in subtle and less subtle ways. (Imagine Mike and me trying to ignore Jed singing “Puppy Love” while setting up signs in the hotel lobby.)
Finally, in the spring of 2011 we started dating and I never needed to ask all the usual probing first date questions, hoping for an honest answer that would reveal his character. He showed up early on a Sunday mornings to unpack heavy sound equipment with a made-to-order coffee for me. Did I really need to know more? All of our most trusted friends supported our new dating relationship that began with a commitment to church expressed through dreaded early morning manual labor each Sunday. What I expected to be the worst part of church planting turned out to be most rewarding.
In February of 2012 Mike and I got married. I felt like our entire relationship developed in church, in the community of people who were just as committed to us as we were to them. Our wedding reception was held in Restoration’s first building on Sigma Road and it felt like a barn raising were everyone pitched in to turn a concrete warehouse into a paper flower-covered wedding venue. Restoration is our true home and I am so grateful that God led both Mike and me here through a shared commitment to love the church.